A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

2 1



The investigation was carried out for the Ministry of Food. Its purpose was to find out to what extent National Milk Cocoa was used in the factories which applied for it; the attitude of the adolescents to it, and the difficulties experienced by the canteen manager or other persons who had to deal with N.A.M.C.O. in serving and storing it.

The investigation was carried out in April, 1944.

453 factories, offices, and clubs all over England serving N.A.M.C.O were visited, and the person responsible for the handling of N.A.M.C.O.interviewed. The questions asked are enumerated in Appendix 1.

The names of these 453 places of work were chosen at random from six lists of firms, clubs, and hostels, which had applied for N.A.M.C.O., and were provided by the six producers of N.A.M.C.O.. In addition to the interviews with people responsible for the handling and supplying of N.A.M.C.O., 972 adolescents were interrogated on their attitude to this new drink. These 972 adolescents were chosen at random from the firms visited, irrespective of whether or not they took N.A.M.C.O.. (For details of sample see Appendix 2). The basis of the interview was the questions shown in Appendix 3.


75% of the juveniles who had the opportunity took N.A.M.C.O., Four-fifths of these like it very much and half of those who take it prefer it to the cocoa at home.

Only one-third of those who do not take it had given it a fair trial.

More juveniles take N.A.M.C.O. in those firms where it is brought to their place of work or where they prepare it themselves. N.A.M.C.O.seems least popular in those firms where it is served in the canteen at lunch-time.

The majority, 78% of the firms, prepare N.A.M.C.O.in accordance with the instructions; those who do not, use smaller quantities of N.A.M.C.O.per cup than is suggested by the Ministry of Food.

A certain number of juveniles complain that it is not sweet enough. The majority who do not like it find it too sweet and rich, and they are often the people who do not like any milk drinks.

36% of the firms give N.A.M.C.O.without charge, and the juveniles find the price reasonable where they have to pay for it.

The firms feel fairly satisfied with the quality and delivery of the supply.

3 2 4 3

Description of Firms visited

The interviewer was asked to describe the firm she visited in the following terms:-

Whether it was in the main factory or office, offices attached to factories were counted as ‘factory’;

Industry of the firm;

Number of employees;

Canteen facilities in existence.

Table 1

Factory or office

No %
Factory 286 63
Office 67 15
Other 100 22
Firms visited: 453 100
Table 2

Industry of firm

No. %
Engineering 137 30
Food etc. 40 9
Textiles 49 11
Other light manufacture 62 14
Transport 12 3
Distributive 72 16
Miscellaneous 47 10
Club, hostel 24 5
No answer 10 2
Firms visited: 453 100

A number of firms had a factory and an office where juveniles were employed, so in all such cases a number of questions were asked separately for factory and office. Certain people who were not employed either in offices or works, like cleaners, warehousemen, etc, were counted in a category ‘others’ as were the juveniles who were interviewed in clubs and training centres.

The next table shows the number of all employees in factories and offices of the firm for which information was obtained.

Table 3
Total Number employed Factory Number employed Office Other
% % %
Less than 100 38 Up to 25 58 65
100 - 499 31 26 - 50 21 24
500 - 999 7 51 - 75 12 11
1,000 and over 12 76 - 100 - -
No answer 11 over 100 5 5
Departments of firms visited: 294 394 200

Here the sample of 453 firms visited has been divided up into number of factories, offices, other places of work as N.A.M.C.O.was often prepared in different conditions for the various departments within a firm.

Table 4

The adolescents interviewed were from factories, offices, shop and stores of the following size:-

Number employed Factory Number employed Offices Others Shops & Stores A.T.C. Training Corps Hostels
% % %
Less than 100 34 Up to 25 66 66
100 - 499 33 26 - 50 13 14 Changing Number
500 - 999 11 51 - 75 - 8
Over 1,000 20 76 - 100 22 12
No answer 2 over 100 - -
Sample: 665 96 98 113
Table 5

Canteens in existence

Factory Office Other
% % %
Canteen 58 28 28
Special room or kitchen 15 11 17
No canteen or special room 17 26 22
No answer 10 30 33
Sample : 294 394 200

Number of interviews in the supplier’s regions

As already stated the sample was chosen from customers lists of the six suppliers of N.A.M.C.O.. The next table shows the number of firms visited in the region of each supplier.

Table 6
No. %
Rowntree 92 20
Cadbury 97 21
Van Houten 89 20
Co-op. 46 10
Kearley & Tonge 88 20
Fry 41 9
Firms visited: 453 100

Each firm interviewed was also asked the starting date of N.A.M.C.O.and the efforts made to publicise the serving of N.A.M.C.O..

Table 7

The starting date

Before Christmas 18
January 28
February 40
March or later 10
Vague answers 4
Firms visited: 453

No interpretation of this table can be attempted without knowledge of the dates and extent of the publicity campaign, but half the sample had only a very short experience, not more than two months, of serving N.A.M.C.O..

The taking up of N.A.M.C.O.

Both juveniles and the N.A.M.C.O.manager were asked questions about the number who take the drink in that particular firm.

The N.A.M.C.O.manager was asked how many of the under 18s take N.A.M.C.O., while each juvenile was asked: “Do you have National Milk Cocoa?”

5 4 6 5

Statement of N.A.M.C.O.manager on the number who take it.

Table 8
All 47
3/4 to all 16
1/2 to 3/4 13
Less than half 16
None -
No answer 7
Firms visited: 453

Not quite half the firms serve it to all young people. The rest to less. There is a certain difference between factory and office workers in the proportion which takes N.A.M.C.O.

Table 9
Factory Office Others including Clubs and Hostels
% % %
All 41 53 59
Three-quarters to all 16 7 8
Half to three-quarters 12 7 3
Less than half 17 9 9
None 2 12 10
No answer 12 12 10
Departments with adolescents, of firms visited 286 323 118

(Here the sample is smaller than in Table 3 as not all the departments of the firms visited employed adolescents)

In more offices all adolescents take N.A.M.C.O., but in interpreting the figure it must be kept in mind that some offices only employ a few juveniles.

The number of employees in a factory or office who take N.A.M.C.O.also depends on who makes and serves the N.A.M.C.O.- the adolescents themselves or somebody employed by the management, and whether it is served in a canteen or at the place of work.

Table 10

N.A.M.C.O.made and served by:-

No. of employees who take N.A.M.C.O. Factories Offices
Management Adolescents Management Adolescents
% % % %
All 36 61 39 80
Three-quarters to all 15 16 7 6
Half to three-quarters 13 9 9 2
Less than half 21 5 12 4
None 1 3 16 6
No answer 13 6 17 3
Departments with adolescents, of firms visited 222 76 216 119

(N.B. in a few cases both management and juveniles prepared N.A.M.C.O.)

It is obvious that in factories as well as offices a much greater percentage of the employees take N.A.M.C.O.if it is made and prepared by themselves.

The extent of consumption also depends on whether N.A.M.C.O.is served at the place of work or in a canteen.

Table 11


Factories Offices
Canteen Place of Work Canteen Place of Work
% % % %
All 25 56 43 72
Three-quarters to all 16 16 9 7
Half to three-quarters 14 10 13 6
Less than half 27 8 16 4
None 1 - 3 4
No answer 16 10 15 8
Departments with adolescents, of firms visited 140 144 87 160

(Here the sample is smaller than in Table 9 as it was not recorded in each case whether or not there was a canteen.)

Many more youngsters take N.A.M.C.O.if it is served at their place of work than if they have to get it from the canteen. One reason for this might be that very often if it is served in a canteen it is available only at lunch-time and people do not want cocoa with their lunch.

Statement of adolescents on taking N.A.M.C.O.

Table 12
Takes it 75
Does not take it 25
Adolescents interviewed: 972

Three-quarters of the young people who have the opportunity of taking N.A.M.C.O., make use of it.

Certain group differences exist, and a comparison in sex grouping shows this.

Table 13
Male Female
% %
Takes N.A.M.C.O. 73 77
Does not take N.A.M.C.O. 27 23
Adolescents interviewed: 418 554

The difference between boys and girls is just statistically significant. Slightly more girls take N.A.M.C.O., but whether this difference is due to sex or occupation is difficult to decide. If the adolescents are divided up into groups according to their occupation, the following table is obtained.

Table 14
Factory Office Other
% % %
Takes it 70 79 87
Does not take it 30 21 13
Adolescents intervied: 554 263 155

Slightly more office workers than factory workers take N.A.M.C.O.and even more youngsters take it when it is given to them at hostels and training centres.

N.A.M.C.O.seems equally popular with the three age groups:- the under 15s, 15-16 years, 17-18 years.

Frequency of serving N.A.M.C.O.

This question was also asked of N.A.M.C.O.managers and adolescents. The analysis of the results shows:

Statement of N.A.M.C.O.managers

Table 15

Serving on shifts:

Day shift, if there is no night shift 52
Day shift only 13
Day and night shift 4
Firms where the shift question did not apply 31
Firms visited: 453
7 6

The daily frequency with which N.A.M.C.O. is served

Table 16

How often served to the same people:

Twice a day 28
Once a day 64
Not every day 6
No answer 2
Firms visited: 453

More than a quarter of the factories serve it twice a day to the same people, and a small percentage serve it irregularly.

The juveniles’ statement on frequency

Table 17

How often do you have N.A.M.C.O.?

Twice a day 17
Once a day 69
Not every day 13
No answer 2
All those who take N.A.M.C.O. 731

The results of the two tables compare fairly well, but it shows that not all juveniles take N.A.M.C.O.twice a day where they have the opportunity, and that a certain number do take it irregularly although it is served every day.

In the next table the frequency of serving N.A.M.C.O., as stated by the management is related to the statements of the juveniles on how often they take it during a day.

Table 18
How often N.A.M.C.O.is served a day as stated by managements How often N.A.M.C.O.is taken a day as stated by juveniles
Twice a day Once a day Not every day Sample: all who answered the question x
% % %
Twice a day 63 29 7 175
Once a day - 95 4 432
Not every day - - 100 11

x excluding Clubs and Hostels

If N.A.M.C.O.is served twice a day not quite two-thirds of the juveniles take it twice. The number who take it infrequently when it is served regularly is rather small.

8 7

Sex differences

Table 19

How often do you take N.A.M.C.O.?

Male Female
% %
Twice a day 20 15
Once a day 55 78
Not every day 22 6
Not answered 3 1
All who take N.A.M.C.O. 307 424

More boys than girls take N.A.M.C.O.only irregularly. The explanation of this figure lies most probably in the fact that more boys get their N.A.M.C.O.supply from clubs and training centres where they do not go regularly every night.

Serving to the over 18’s.

This was a delicate question and could not be asked in a straightforward manner; the roundabout way we used to get this information was to ask what was done with the supply left over. Only N.A.M.C.O.managers were asked this question.

Use of left over N.A.M.C.O.

Table 20
Nothing left over 67
The over 18’s have it 13
Under 18’s have extra 5
Carry it over to next month 3
Will not write ordering until supply is exhausted 9
Miscellaneous 3
Firms visited: 453

13% of the firms admitted that they serve it to the over 18’s though our interviewers reported that most probably the number is higher. To give an example, in one case the interviewer was assured that only the under 18’s had N.A.M.C.O., but afterwards during a general chat she was suddenly told that N.A.M.C.O.was very popular, especially with the older men. In another case the interviewer found the manager just drinking a cup of N.A.M.C.O., and she was assured that only the under 18s had it, but the manager added from time to time he tried it to see whether it was all right.

How N.A.M.C.O.is liked

The adolescents were asked how they liked N.A.M.C.O.

9 8

What do you think of N.A.M.C.O.?

Table 21
Likes it very much 81
Likes it with some reservations 15
Does not like it 3
Miscellaneous 1
No answer 1
All who take N.A.M.C.O. 731

Four-fifths of the adolescents who take N.A.M.C.O.like it, only 3% do not like it. Those who like it with reservations say they like it but it is too sweet, too rich, too milky, too nourishing, too fattening, or not sweet enough. We actually came across one firm which added saccharine, explaining that they found their people did not like saccharine in tea but did not mind it in cocoa.

The second question relevant in this connection was asked of all people who took N.A.M.C.O.and also had cocoa or other milk drinks (tea and coffee excluded) (at home). It was worded: “How do the milk drinks you have at home compare with N.A.M.C.O.?”

Table 22
Comparison with N.A.M.C.O. * Has cocoa at home Has other milk drinks, but not cocoa, at home
% %
The same, both nice 23 20
Prefer N.A.M.C.O. 47 24
Prefer home drinks 20 45
Vague answer 4 4
No answer 6 7
All who had N.A.M.C.O.and milk drinks at home 591 119

* These people could also have other milk drinks at home. The amount of milk, sugar and cocoa used in making cocoa at home is shown in Appendix 4.

Nearly half of the young people who are used to drinking cocoa prefer N.A.M.C.O. to the usual cocoa they get at home, another quarter thinks N.A.M.C.O. equally good. One-fifth prefer the home cocoa to N.A.M.C.O..

Nearly half of the adolescents who do not take cocoa at home prefer other milk drinks to N.A.M.C.O.; the others either prefer N.A.M.C.O. or find that it compares quite well with the drinks they are used to.

Age is a factor influencing the liking of N.A.M.C.O.

Table 23
Age: 14 years and under 15 - 16 years 17 - 18 years
% % %
Likes it very much 87 84 78
Likes it with reservations 11 15 19
Does not like it 2 2 3
No answer - 1 -
All who take N.A.M.C.O. 154 370 205

Fewer adolescents in the 17 - 18 age group are keen on N.A.M.C.O. It is not so much that more positively dislike it but more have reservations to make, namely that it is too sickly and fattening. No sex difference could be found.

10 9 11 10

Dislike of N.A.M.C.O.

25% of the juveniles did not take the N.A.M.C.O. offered to them and 3% took it, but did not like it. It seemed interesting to find out what were the main reasons for the unfavourable attitude.

The first question asked of those who did not take N.A.M.C.O. at the time of the interview was whether they had ever tried it.

Table 24
Experience of N.A.M.C.O. % of total sample
Has never tried it 38 9
Tried it only once 23 6
Had it for a time, then gave it up 39 10
Adolescents interviewed 241 972
(Those who did not take N.A.M.C.O.)

More than a third of the 25% adolescents who do not take N.A.M.C.O. have never tried it. Another third took it for a time but gave it up. The rest had only tried it once and never tried it again.

Those who gave it up, or had never tried it, were asked why they had this attitude. The answers were as follows:-

Table 25
Reason for giving up N.A.M.C.O. Reason for never having tried N.A.M.C.O.
% %
Does not like cocoa 18 39
Did not like N.A.M.C.O. 19 -
Too sweet 17 -
Not made properly 16 -
Only occasionally available 13 11
Not bothered, never thought of it - 23
Miscellaneous 12 16
No reason given, does not know 4 12
Adolescents who have given up N.A.M.C.O. 150 Adolescents who have never taken N.A.M.C.O. 91

The group “Miscellaneous” contains remarks like the following:- from those who had tried it:

“Just stopped drinking anything in the morning”.

“Have to wait a long time while it is made”.

“Got fed up with it, same thing over and over again”.

“Prefer to read, so don’t go to canteen”.

“The cook in the canteen did not want to make it - like it alright”.

“Used to make me sleepy - like it but I shan’t do any work”.

“Don’t like it with dinner, prefer it -mid-morning”.

“Gave it up until the cold weather again. Think it is too heating to the body to take in the summer, they give us lemonade here now”.

and from those who had never tried it:-

“Never drink anything at work”.

“We get free tea and like to make it ourselves”.

“Only been here since last Tuesday - had not had any given to her”.

“Told it wasn’t very nice - not very sweet”.

“Only served out midday with the dinners in the canteen - I always go outside for my dinner anyway”.

“I don’t like cocoa with dinner”.

“Getting on for the summer - too hot for it”.

The most interesting figures in the foregoing table are the 23% who never tried N.A.M.C.O. because they had never thought of taking it, and the 11% who found that it is only occasionally available.

Those who had tried it but had given it up were also asked how it compared with the milk drinks they have at home. If the answers are compared with those given to the same question by the people who take N.A.M.C.O. the following table is obtained.

Table 26
Comparison with N.A.M.C.O. of those who have cocoa at home Has tried N.A.M.C.O. but given it up Takes N.A.M.C.O.
% %
Like both equally 12 22
Prefer N.A.M.C.O. 14 43
Prefer Home drinks 51 25
Vague answers 6 4
No answer 17 6
All who had milk drinks at home 114 710

Many more of the people who have given up N.A.M.C.O. like their home drinks better than N.A.M.C.O. compared with those who still take it. Of course, this table does not tell whether the people who gave up N.A.M.C.O. did so because they like their home drinks much better, or because they had not made acquaintance with N.A.M.C.O. and prefer the familiar.

Drinks taken in place of N.A.M.C.O.

In order to see what drinks N.A.M.C.O. has replaced or what drinks are taken in place of N.A.M.C.O., adolescents were asked “What do you have, or did you have, in place of N.A.M.C.O. ?”

Table 27
Beverages taken in place of N.A.M.C.O. replaced N.A.M.C.O. All who take N.A.M.C.O. now Those who do not take N.A.M.C.O. now
% %
Nothing 13 12
Tea 66 68
Cocoa 13 12
Coffee 5 4
Horlicks 3 3
Oxo 4 1
Cordial 2 4
Water 1 -
No answer 2 6
Has not been working before 4 -
Adolescents interviewed 731 241

Tea is the greatest competitor of N.A.M.C.O. as one would have expected, but that 12% who do not take N.A.M.C.O. now drink cocoa is a little surprising.

A further analysis of those answers showed that a number of these juveniles thought they got cocoa when in fact they had N.A.M.C.O. About seven answers are from the hostel for working lads in Edinburgh where the managers thought that N.A.M.C.O. was too expensive and that they preferred to give their charges some sort of cocoa which they could make more cheaply.

The price of N.A.M.C.O.

Statement of N.A.M.C.O. managers:

Table 28
Price charged: %
Less than 1 penny 9
1 penny 48
More than 1 penny 1
Divide cost between them 2
Free to factory, charged to office 2
Free 36
No answer 2
Firms visited 453

The financial side of serving N.A.M.C.O. is handled in quite a number of different ways. About half of the firms charge a penny and more than one-third gives it free of charge.

The attitude of the juveniles to the price can be seen from the following tables.

12 11

Statement of juveniles

The question asked was “What is charged for a cup of N.A.M.C.O., and do you think this is reasonable?”

Table 29

The amount charged for a cup

Free 21
Less than 1 penny 8
1 penny 56
Over 1 penny 1
Does not know 14
Adolescents interviewed: 972

Only 5 juveniles considered the price unreasonable.

The preparation and storing of N.A.M.C.O.

It is obvious that storing and preparation of the drink will influence considerably the taste of the drink and, therefore, the attitude of the consumer.

The preparation

Table 30
Follow %
Follow instructions fully 78
Do not follow instructions fully 18
No answer 4
Firms visited: 453

Those who did not follow the instructions fully were asked how they prepared N.A.M.C.O..

Table 31
Less N.A.M.C.O. used 12
Fresh milk added 2
Sugar added 1
More N.A.M.C.O.used 1
Mixed with cold water 1
Miscellaneous 2
No answer less than 1
Do follow instructions 78
Firms visited: 453

On the whole it seems that the preparation of N.A.M.C.O. is satisfactory, that is to say if we can trust the statements of the N.A.M.C.O. preparer. Unfortunately it was not possible for the interviewer, in most cases, to watch the actual preparation.

The storage of N.A.M.C.O.

Storage was investigated from four angles. In what kind of container N.A.M.C.O. is kept, where the container is kept, for what other purposes the room is used and whether the room has direct or indirect ventilation.

13 12

For which other purposes is room used where N.A.M.C.O. is stored

Table 32
Store room 42
Kitchen, canteen, etc. 16
Office, workroom 36
Miscellaneous 2
No answer 5
Films visited: 453

These rooms were ventilated in the following way:-

Table 33
Type of room where N.A.M.C.O. is stored Ventilation None Sample all who answered both questions
Direct Indirect
% % %
Store room 63 31 6 132
Kitchen, canteen, etc. 85 10 5 71
Office, workroom 58 8 4 134
Other Absolute figure too small 11

More Store rooms are badly ventilated than the other rooms

Where is container kept

Table 34
Cupboard 49
Floor 12
Others x 37
No answer 2
Firms visited: 453

x In ‘Others’ the following places are included: open shelves, box to keep it off the floor, open bin, drawer, on a table, on desk, bench, on top of cupboard, filing cabinets, in steel filing cabinet, etc.

N.A.M.C.O. was stored in the following places in the different rooms:-

Table 35
Store room Kitchen, Canteen Office Workroom Others
% % % %
Cupboard 50 84 41 Figures too small
Floor 14 7 17
Others 36 9 42
All who answered both questions 187 55 155 9

Generally when N.A.M.C.O. is kept in the place of work it is deposited in all sorts of odd corners.

14 13

Kind of container in which N.A.M.C.O. is kept

Table 36
Original container 81
Closed tins or jars 17
Open tins or jars 1
No answer 1
Firms visited: 453

The majority of firms keep N.A.M.C.O. in the original container. The different containers are distributed in the following way in the different rooms.

Table 37
Store room Kitchen, Canteen Office Workroom Others
% % % %
Original container 84 82 74 Figures too small
Closed tins or jars 15 17 23
Open tins or jars - - 3
All who answered both questions 188 157 70 12

Shortcomings in supply

It was thought that managers might be deterred in their effort to distribute N.A.M.C.O. among their juveniles if the supply was not satisfactory. All N.A.M.C.O. managers were, therefore, asked whether the supply were satisfactory in quality and whether delivery were reasonably efficient.

The quality of supply

Table 38
Rowntree Cadbury Van Houten Co-op. Kearley & Tonge Fry
% % % % % %
Satisfactory 92 90 84 72 90 76
Unsatisfactory 3 4 5 6 7 7
Sometimes unsatisfactory 5 6 11 22 3 17
453 firms visited 92 97 89 46 88 41

Supplies from the Co-op. and Fry seem to be less satisfactory than those from the other firms, though on the whole there are very few complaints.

The reasons for dissatisfaction are shown in the following table. As the figures are so small no percentages, but the absolute figures are given.

Rowntree Cadbury Van Houten Co-op. Kearley & Tonge Fry
Lumpy, caked, solid lump 6 8 14 8 2 7
Packing damaged 1 1 - 3 3 -
Miscellaneous 1 - 1 1 - 2
453 firms visited 92 97 89 46 88 41
15 14

Efficiency of delivery

Table 39
Rowntree Cadbury Van Houten Co-op. Kearley & Tonge Fry
% % % % % %
Not satisfactory 8 22 14 7 14 15
Satisfactory 81 73 80 72 78 80
Sometimes not satisfactory 9 4 6 21 8 5
No answer 1 1 - - - -
453 Firms visited 92 97 89 46 88 41

Cadbury’s seem least efficient in their deliveries. The main complaint is that the supply arrives irregularly or late.

Some effects of the N.A.M.C.O. publicity

It is always difficult to judge the success of a publicity compaign by the conscious effect it leaves in people’s memories, but such memories might provide a certain indication of its effectiveness.

N.A.M.C.O. managers were asked what made them start to serve N.A.M.C.O.

Table 40
Ministry of Food notification, asked by Government etc. 35
Instructions receive from higher authority in firm 9
Saw the advertisement in the paper 29
Employees under 18 asked for it 13
Other members of the staff asked for it 10
Miscellaneous 2
No answer 2
Firms visited 453

Juveniles were asked if they had heard about the possibility of having N.A.M.C.O. before they heard about it at work.

Table 41
Had you heard about N.A.M.C.O. before you heard about it at work %
Yes 47
No 49
No answer 4
Adolescents interviewed 972

About half of the adolescents had heard of the possibility of having N.A.M.C.O. before it was actually mentioned at their own place of work.

Canteen managers were asked what they did to popularise N.A.M.C.O.

16 15

Steps undertaken to popularise N.A.M.C.O.

Table 42
% %
Steps undertaken to popularise N.A.M.C.O. 39
Notices, posters, circulars 20
Broadcasts and talks 14
Given free 5
Nothing done to popularise: 57
No need, staff not large enough 26
No need, popular already 31
Miscellaneous 2
No answer 2
Firms visited 453

Over half of the firms had not undertaken any steps to popularise N.A.M.C.O.; their main reason being that it was already popular.

In interpreting this table one must bear in mind that the connotation of “Popularise” is elastic; one manager might reply that he had not popularised N.A.M.C.O. because he had not instituted a publicity campaign, but merely told the juveniles about it, a step which another manager describes as “Popularise”.

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